In Our Bedroom After The War

Stars

Arts & Crafts, 2007

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/29/2007

When the Canadian pop ensemble Stars are on, they’re nothing short of brilliant: acute musings on the intricacies of love, loss and relationships are set to crisp production and carefully arranged instrumentation, while the vocal interplay between lead singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan brims with innate chemistry, whether they’re playing bitter exes or newfound lovers.

In Our Bedroom after the War, the band’s fourth studio album, is imbued with a new sense of theatrics, combining the characteristic passionate delivery and lovelorn lyrics with a heightened drama that surpasses the more contained scope of 2004’s Set Yourself on Fire.

The album launches off strong following its instrumental intro with “The Night Starts Here,” a classic Stars single with its gorgeous, dreamy soundscapes and seamless vocal tradeoff between the leads. Twinkling keyboard chords coupled with a driving synth beat backdrop simple, sentimental lyrics, creating a mellow yet ultimately memorable track. bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

Continuing on in this vein is lead single “Take Me To the Riot,” a bombastic, stick-in-your-head stunner that has Campbell stepping into the role of a desolate pill-popper struggling to break free of his ensnaring existence. Replete with an anthemic chorus and Campbell’s preening, just shy of over-the-top vocals, “Riot” is reminiscent of U2 in its energetic proclamations: “Saturday nights in neon lights / Sunday in the cell / Pills enough to make me feel ill, cash enough to make me well / Take me, take me to the riot / And let me stay,” Campbell pleads as the song concludes, his voice soaring with emotion so that the line between the vocalist himself and his put-on character begins to blur.

Meanwhile, Millan takes over on vocals most memorably on “My Favorite Book,” a quietly elegant track that showcases the slinking, charismatic whisper of her voice. A welcome respite from the prevailing mood of lovelorn dejection, this song takes over where “Ageless Beauty” left off with its bright, playful optimism and silky jazz-pop instrumentation. 

Other highlights include “Personal,” a buried gem between the overly wistful narrative of “Barricade” and “The Ghost of Genova Heights,” a meandering number only buoyed by its slick, upbeat chorus, delivered in a Scissor Sisters-esque falsetto. “Personal,” despite its gimmicky concept of being told entirely through two singles’ personal ads, thankfully lacks all the expected cheesiness. With its brooding piano chords, downbeat drums and the wonderful contrast between Millan’s hopeful vulnerability and Campbell’s terse detachment, this track is an achingly precise encapsulation of the timeless struggle for connection.

Despite its occasional lapses into the mundane or overblown, on the whole In Our Bedroom After the War is filled with more delights than disappointments. It’s both a testament to the sheer, propulsive power of love as well as a reminder of Stars’ innate ability to craft those quietly gorgeous and always memorable pop tracks.

Rating: B+

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Comments

by PastyJournalist on November 29, 2007 04:01:25 AM
Nice review! I saw these guys a few weeks ago - they put on an awesome show. Made me appreciate this album a lot more.

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© 2007 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Arts & Crafts, and is used for informational purposes only.